When building and playing a coastal druid Circle of the Land in DnD 5e, consider the following:
- Try a half elf, Tortle or Aarakocra
- Backstories of beachside life
- Use Wild Shape animal forms with an island or coastal theme
- Bonus Coastal Spells
- Complementary Druid Spells
Coastal druids in DnD 5e relate to the ecology of beaches, bays and shorelines. This Circle of the Land build comes with water-based, illusory bonus spells. I like to think of this character as a fun way to create a laidback spellcaster—maybe even a surfer. Naturally, I’ll need to build around Wisdom as my top score. It’s all about the ebb and flow, man.
Before we dive in, consider trying your new druid in my custom pirate campaign below.
Try a half elf, Tortle or Aarakocra
When thinking about what race to play, consider characters that lean into the beachside theme.
Half elves have an untraditional view of the world and natural Charisma (+2). However, I can gain additional proficiencies with Skill Versatility and resist being charmed with Fey Ancestry. A character from two different worlds, the half elf coastal druid checks out of the system completely.
Tortles fit the theme and build for this perfectly, with a +2 Wisdom bonus. Plus, they can already Hold Breath for up to 1 hour and I can withdraw into my shell with Shell Defense (+4 AC). All of their Natural Armor benefits increase my AC to 17, which is way high for druids. The slowed down speech and general good vibes of this character is fun to play out.
|Guide to Building an Arctic Druid: DnD 5e||Guide to Building Pirate Characters: DnD 5e|
Aarakocra take after raptors and would love the coastline gusts of wind to soar through. With +2 Wisdom bonus, they already make powerful druids from a build perspective. Plus, they can fly. I like to imagine these variants as somewhat seagull-like in appearance, or perhaps some kind of seaside raptor. With this build, they will be beings of sea and sky, connected with the chaotic changes of weather.
Backstories of beachside life
The coastal druid will be connected to a pleasant beachside environment. They are the most water-based druid class, so undersea life will be special to them as well. They can be connected to a tropical environment or something like Main or Canada.
However, the more tropical environments stick out to me. Islands and palm trees dot this character’s home environment. They spend as much or more time underwater as they do on land, talking to fish and making friends with dolphins. Now, we have tons of creative flexibility to bring this coastal character to life.
Druids tend to be wanderers by nature, so consider simple backstories of studying ecology. A great way to push this backstory with drama is to have a force destroy this natural balance. Now, your druid is on a mission to restore this balance. Trouble in paradise, so to speak.
Use Wild Shape animal forms with an island or coastal theme
There’s certainly no rule that says you can’t transform into any creature you want (besides the CR level). However, I like to add the creative flavor of whatever landscape I pull from with these Circle of the Land builds. Consider these beast forms to keep in line with your theme:
- Crocodile: A swimming form that can hold its breath and clamp onto enemies with a bite attack.
- Dolphin: Another agile swimmer that can charge its opponent for a little extra damage. Plus, sonar gives it blindsight.
- Giant Crab: A surprisingly effective tank (AC 15) at a 1/8 CR. Plus, pinchers give me grappling action and I’m amphibious.
- Giant Eagle: Once I level up, this bad boy will be a powerful flying option.
- Giant Octopus: A 1 CR swimmer, the giant octopus can attack with tentacles, camouflage itself, and shoot ink clouds for underwater escape.
- Hadrosaur: A hefty dinosaur tank that can stomp, ram and knock foes prone.
Bonus Coastal Spells
When I choose the Coast as my Circle of the Land, I’ll gain bonus spells that are ready to use. These spells will not count against my druid spell choices but add to them.
- Mirror Image (Level 3): Conjure 3 illusory duplicates of myself. When I creature attacks me, I can roll a d20 to see if it hits my duplicate instead. I must roll higher than 6 (3 duplicates), 8 (2 duplicates), and 11 (1 duplicate).
- Misty Step (Level 3): I teleport up to 30 feet away in a cloud of mist. This one’s pretty handy for escaping bad situations.
- Water Breathing (Level 5): Breathe underwater for up to an hour. As far as exploring goes, this is a fun one.
- Water Walk (Level 5): Now, I can walk on top of the water, too.
- Control Water (Level 7): Generate different effects with bodies of water, including: creating floods, redirecting flows, creating whirlpools and parting large lakes or sea waters.
- Freedom of Movement (Level 7): Being underwater imposes no penalties to movement or attacks: Plus, target can escape nonmagical restraints and grapples, move through difficult terrain, and avoid paralysis and reduction on speed.
- Conjure Elemental (Level 9): Conjure a powerful elemental to battle. Not to be confused with summon elemental from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
- Scrying (Level 9): I can locate a creature or person magically. However, they can make a Wisdom saving throw to block the effect. This saving throw will have a -5, 0, or +5 to the roll depending on how well I know the creature or person.
Complementary Druid Spells
Now that we know the fee spells in our repertoire, let’s think of our other spell choices.
|Guide to Building a Tortle Character: DnD 5e||Guide to Building a Druid Circle of Wildfire: DnD 5e|
As a Circle of the Land druid, I’ll gain a bonus cantrip to start. Here are a few examples of what I would choose.
- Druidcraft: I can cause small natural effects to occur, such as a breeze, a flower budding or snuffing out a fire. This fits well with my tricky coastal vibe. Plus, I can grow coral reef in my spare time.
- Shape Water: I can manipulate a 5-foot cube of water into shapes, change its flow, change its color and even freeze it. I imagine making an ice cube for a quick boat or floating device.
- Poison Spray: This handy attack is useful around water. The target makes a Constitution saving throw or takes 1d12 poison damage. Not everything can be chill, dude.
Now, I’m incorporating spell points for higher-level effects. A few examples of spells I would choose include:
- Cure Wounds: I can heal 1d8 + Wisdom modifier damage to myself or another. Yeah, it fits the chill theme but it’s also super practical.
- Animal Friendship: Really, I just want to use this to bond with dolphins. Plus, it comes in handy in a number of creative ways during an adventure.
- Thunderwave: I channel my island storm energy to blast everyone within 15 feet of me with a thunderclap. On a failed Constitution saving throw, targets take 2d8 thunder damage and are pushed 10 feet away.
- Lesser Restoration: Cure blindness, deafness, paralysis or poison. Helps with those pesky jellyfish stings.
- Spike Growth: A hidden 20-foot radius of difficult terrain appears. Any creature that moves through the terrain takes 2d4 piercing damage for every 5 feet moved. However, they can make a Wisdom (Perception) check to notice it before falling into the trap. I imagine this would work well on an island jungle.
- Locate Object: This one’s a fun treasure hunting or ingredient gathering spell. I can learn the direction of an object familiar to me within 1,000 feet. Plus, I can tell if it’s moving. If I’m within 30 feet of it, I can locate it.